Today is my son’s 12th birthday….I can’t believe he is so old already!
In honor of his birthday, I thought I would share some lesser-known strategies I have used with him at home and that his teachers have used at school. All of these are great strategies for ANY child, but specifically for a student on the Autism Spectrum. My son’s diagnosis is PDD/NOS, but most of his characteristics would be seen as “Asperger’s.” There are MANY, MANY ideas out there, but here are some of my go-to strategies that you may not have thought about yet.
1. Audiobooks--He has a hard time with fiction. He is happy to read nonfiction about a topic of his choice, but sometimes struggles with other books. Of course, he can read every word, but doesn’t always understand the vocabulary or how the author might say something. We have found Audible to be a LIFESAVER for this! He was getting old enough that he needed to be reading something other than Magic Tree House, Ready Freddy, and Stink books. His sister, on the other hand, will read a book like Harry Potter in a couple days. She is a very high reader, but I have noticed that she often just skips over parts she doesn’t know, specifically words she doesn’t know how to pronounce (like all good readers do!). She could use some more exposure to reading big words. They now like to choose books together and listen to them for 20-30 minutes a day. It helps my son understand better, helps my daughter slow down some, and it gives them something in common to talk about.
In the classroom, many primary teachers have listening centers, but I think it is a great idea for ALL ages. Not only does it help build fluency, but can even help with stamina, interest in other genres, and cooperative learning. Libraries have CDs available for many popular titles. Did you know that many audiobooks are even available to download directly to your Kindle, Android, or iDevice? Check your local library for free titles and then look on Amazon or Audible for others. Parents might even be willing to donate towards a yearly membership!
2. Play Games–Many of you already know that my WILD card games were inspired by meeting a need for my son. However, any games help students (on the spectrum or not) learn how to win, how to lose, and how to communicate with others. Of course, if it is an academic game, it can also teach them a skill or help them practice an idea. Game days shouldn’t just be for a reward. Have games become a regular part of your Literacy or Math centers. When I was in the classroom, I had 3 groups in math that rotated with me daily. At any given time, one group was with me, one was working on a practice sheet or in a workbook, and the third was playing a game. I rotated the games based on what they needed to practice. It was a great way to get them working with each other and practicing in ways other than just on a worksheet!
3. DON’T keep everything the same all the time–You probably think I wrote that wrong. After all, you hear over and over again that Autistic kids need to keep things the same all the time. However, I am here to tell you that the best way to get ANY kid to be flexible is to throw a wrench in the plans every once in awhile. Of course, you know your kids the best, so don’t choose to do this when you know they are already have a particularly rough day. But, every once in awhile, teach math BEFORE reading or check homework at the end of the day instead. Life happens and kids need to know that no matter what, you will make sure everything that needs to happen will happen. They need to see YOU be flexible with the schedule and see what you let roll off your back. You might even warn them ahead of time if they need that. After a while, it won’t phase them anymore. They will trust you and become more flexible at the same time!
What strategies do you use in your classroom that work for ALL students? I would love to hear them! Make sure you follow me on tsu to hear even more strategies!
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